11th National Rural Health Conference Priority Recommendations

16 March 2011

Credit due
1. Conference delegates congratulate the Federal Government and Health Minister Nicola Roxon on its continued support for the longitudinal study into women’s health and for the consultative processes and plans brought together in the National Men’s Health Policy as well as the new National Women’s Health Policy.
In particular they welcome the emphasis in these policies on health disadvantage in rural and remote areas.
The substantial and unprecedented support for smoking cessation activity is also acknowledged and very welcome.
Our greatest challenge
2. The parlous state of Indigenous health remains the most important social challenge for Australia – and 70 per cent of it is in rural and remote areas. Delegates welcomed updates provided on progress with, and remaining challenges for, the improvement of the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal Peoples and Torres Strait Islanders.
Conference delegates strongly support action that is required to reinvigorate work on Indigenous ear conditions which, like so many others which blight these citizens of Australia, are entirely preventable.
Partnerships: Medicare Locals
3. The rural and remote health sector has great hopes for Medicare Locals (MLs) and Local Hospital Networks. In rural and remote areas both entities will need sufficient funding for the more complex challenges they face. This high level of support will be particularly important for MLs as, over time, they become the lead agency for primary care in their region.
establishment they are equipped with
sufficient resources, support and guidance to move towards the goals set for
them and this may involve the cashing out/up of health funds from a variety of
sources.
MLs will require community contracts in order to secure genuine and effective
community engagement. The contract of a Medicare Local with the consumers
and clinicians in its region will be based on partnerships with all the health and
health-related agencies that have a legitimate role in determining wellbeing of
its population. They will also need appropriate contractual arrangements with
the governments that fund them. These ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’
arrangements might be based on model contracts.
Partnerships: Health promotion
4. Conference delegates agreed that it is critical that reform of the Australian
health system and the operation of the new Preventive Health Agency result in
a greater proportion of total health expenditure being spent on health
promotion and illness prevention than is currently the case.
Given the particular characteristics of rural and remote areas, health promotion
work in country areas must be fit for purpose and not merely the backwash
from national campaigns. For example, they should have some focus on the
resources industries of the sector such as farming and fishing because of their
poor record on health, safety and wellbeing. This general principle should be
applied to all health promotion work and a good example of this is the work
being undertaken to reduce smoking rates in rural and remote areas,
particularly among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations.
Partnerships: arts and health
5. It is proposed that Regional Arts Australia and the National Rural Health
Alliance combine in efforts to have Commonwealth and State/Territory
governments agree and fund a national arts and health program. Among other
things such a program would provide sustainable recurrent funding for the
types of successful health programs illustrated in Seeded – great arts and
health stories grown in regional Australia.

Media Release Contact Info: 

Conference Program -- http://11nrhc.ruralhealth.org.au/program

Leanne Coleman, Conference Manager
02 6285 4660

Marshall Wilson, Media
0425 624 100